They chat about where he gets his inspiration, the importance of meditation, and how the devastation from Hurricane Katrina brought about Scott’s foray below the surface.
A DELICATE BALANCE OF LOUISIANA REDNECK AND WELL TRAVELLED ADVENTURER. ALWAYS SEEKING TO COLLECT UNIQUE EXPERIENCES AND DIGEST THEM INTO NEW WAYS TO LOOK AT THE WORLD. SCOTT’S CREATIVE JOURNEY BEGAN AT AGE 14 WHILE WORKING SUMMERS AT HIS UNCLE’S PHOTO STORE IN A SMALL TOWN IN MISSISSIPPI AND BY AGE 23 HE HAD BUILT A BUSTLING CAREER SHOOTING FASHION BOTH NATIONALLY AND INTERNATIONALLY.
IN 2008 SCOTT BEGAN DIRECTING COMMERCIALS AND MUSIC VIDEOS AND ALSO BEGAN A SERIES OF WORK UNDERWATER THAT GARNERED INTERNATIONAL ATTENTION IN BOTH THE ART AND COMMERCIAL WORLDS. THE CONTINUED SEARCH FOR NEW EXPRESSION HAS LED TO PROJECTS IN NEW MEDIA AND EXPERIENTIAL ARTS AND SCOTT IS DEVELOPING AND PITCHING SEVERAL PUBLIC ART INSTALLATIONS. EVOLUTION IS KEY TO SURVIVAL SO HE IS ALWAYS LOOKING AT HOW HE CAN BRING A NEW VISION TO WHATEVER PROJECT IS PUT IN FRONT OF HIM.
WHEN NOT CREATING, SCOTT IS EITHER OUTDOORS IN NATURE CLIMBING OR FLY FISHING OR PLANNING THE NEXT UNEXPLORED DESTINATION. JAZZ, GOOD WINE, SEARCHING FOR THE ULTIMATE CHOCOLATE CROISSANT,
AND YES, AT LEAST A FEW TIME A YEAR HE WILL STILL SUCK ON THE HEAD OF A CRAWFISH!!
Ep 46 – Scott Rhea
[00:00:00] Brett Stanley: Welcome back to the underwater podcast. And this week we’re talking to photographer and director Scott, Ray. Scott’s career Rangers from shooting, advertising, and lifestyle images to directing music, videos, and commercials and into his amazing personal fine art work.
But through it all, he’s had a great love of being underwater. We chat about where he gets his inspiration, from the importance of meditation and how the devastation from hurricane Katrina brought about Scott’s foray into the underwater world. All right. Let’s dive in.
Scott welcome to the underwater podcast.
[00:00:32] Scott Rhea: Hey, Brett. Thanks for having me.
[00:00:33] Brett Stanley: Yeah, of course, man. Where are you at the moment? Cause I know you, you kind of travel a bit and you kind of live in a couple of different places.
[00:00:40] Scott Rhea: I do uh, primarily based in LA now, but I have I have been traveling for the last several weeks and I was in Colorado in Utah, Louisiana. So yeah, I’m, I’m back here now for at least a couple of weeks.
[00:00:52] Brett Stanley: Oh, that’s great. how are things for you? Are you, are you busy at the moment? Has the, has the pandemic kind of thrown you for a loop as it has.
[00:00:59] Scott Rhea: Well, I mean, I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone that didn’t get affected by the pandemic and, and, and, and still affected in some ways. But now it’s you know, I’ve been using the time, creatively there’s, there’s been several other outlets and several other projects that I’ve focused on.
So so yeah, I can, I can claim survivorship there through the pandemic. Now we’re at least phase one now, Hey, I, who knows how many more phases we’re in for, but.
[00:01:24] Brett Stanley: Oh, that’s all right. Yeah. You don’t know how many seasons this COVID thing.
So let’s, let’s throw things back a little bit, cause I know you’ve had quite a long career in the creative arts. Where did you start? What was your kind of beginning? Into the artistic.
[00:01:37] Scott Rhea: Well, let’s see, I guess it depends on how far back we want to go, but I I was in a band in high school and prior to that eighth grade, I worked for my aunt and uncle who had a camera store in Rudy, Mississippi. And that’s where I first got my hands on a kid. And I was kind of a shy dude, so I thought, well, man, how in the world am I ever going to meet girls?
Unless I get on the newspaper staff at high school. So I did that, and that was my first experience with a dark room kind of develop my chops there. And then, when our band went on tour for a couple of years, I’d had enough of, of music. I moved to Dallas. Shots and corporate annual report work, realize that is not the direction that I wanted to go.
So I started shooting fashion, which had always had a lot of interest in, and my career just took off. And it was about a 23 year career working in the states and in Europe, shooting a lot of fashion, a lot of advertising. Neiman Marcus. Nordstrom’s a lot of, lot of catalog at that time, which was w really well-paying work.
I took a sabbatical, moved to Europe, shot editorial for a couple of years, realized that that, that really wasn’t wasn’t really the direction longterm that I wanted to go with. But I can say that I had a really had a really good career, had a 10,000 foot studio in Dallas, Texas. And I traveled probably 240 days a year.
On average shooting. I was in my I’d be in Miami for at least three months, a year, every year for a number of. And then I had always had an urge to move into motion. So in oh eight I was chosen to be in a showcase called group one-on-one spots in Los Angeles. I, several, several people apply and they choose 12 people and they, you shoot commercials in and then you, you get to work with huge ad agencies and, and showcase them.
And it all happens over a 90 day. So uh, so that went, that went splendidly with the exception that it, it all ended in the showcased happened in October of oh eight, which happens to be when Lehman brothers hit and the world caught on fire. And so that, so that was incredibly rough timing for for that.
But at that point I was still kind of stepped across the divide. And started focusing more on on motion, work, music, video commercials still, still shooting the steel end of some campaigns, which was a real asset to some clients that I, that I had that background. And they, they didn’t have to hire two people.
They could hire one person. And then that’s that’s kind of where it went from there. And then it’s a, it’s moved into, you know art installations, fine artwork the, the, the underwater thing kind of came out of, kind of came out of that period. A little before in oh five. I’m from Louisiana and hurricane Katrina.
I, in fact, I was in new Orleans for a jazz Fest in oh 5 0 6 is when Katrina hit. And I had a lot of friends and family that lost everything. And I just started having a number of visions that I’d wake up and I would start journaling. And they were all in water and although I was a diver, I had not really a shot under water much except for sport.
And I went out. And a friend of mine, Karim, Hamza who owns the Hollywood divers let me use his private pool, which is happens to be the, oh, he no longer lives here, but it happened to be at the time, a pool closest to the Hollywood Hills, sign the house closest to the Hollywood Hills sign.
[00:04:43] Brett Stanley: rodeo.
[00:04:43] Scott Rhea: So so I went up and spent about four days and myself and just three other people.
And when it went basically to test. You know, some of these ideas and how I do them. And and actually I ended up getting into about 11 images over a couple of days that I still show now and have been bought by celebrities and and kinda kind of launched the adventure there.
[00:05:03] Brett Stanley: Yeah.
So how did you find that that transition into the underwater? Like, was there, I mean, we’re talking like 15 years ago, so There wouldn’t have been much resources out there in terms of how do I do this?
[00:05:15] Scott Rhea: There was no resources. I basically had no idea what I was doing. In fact, there’s some, some pretty hilarious footage of me trying to sync wood, wood sets with three people, you know which, you know, for those of you out there that don’t know. Don’t don’t do that, that they they float like a cork and it takes, you know, several hundred or a thousand pounds to seeing some woods sets.
So, but, but by God, we got it down there and and we were using everything we could, I mean, you know, giant led anchors from movie sets and sand bags wrapped in plastic bags. So, so it was all a complete trial and error. But the one thing that I did know is how I wanted it to. You know, coming from fashion background you know, you have to do a lot yourself.
You have to do everything yourself. And so I was always a, a technical guy. Kodak would send me films to test. I did a few campaigns for Kodak and I’d give them feedback. So. I will always sit down and map out a schematic of what I want to do, how I want it to look. So even though I wasn’t positive of how I was going to get that, I knew in my head what I wanted it to look like.
But I did have to go into there and, you know, create my own snoots and create You know, had someone make at that time ABC photo, which was over near El Segundo. The guy there, I went in and told him, Hey, look, I want to be able to sync to a radio slave, you know, out of the, out of the pool, because I was using a mix of lights.
I was using strobe some continuous lights and some underwater lights that I needed to sync. And they’re just simply. Some of them are, you know, some of the hardware out there to do that. So he built some of that for me.
And, and that’s always kind of been a part of what I’ve I’ve done is try to, you know, if you can’t figure it out, just MacGyver and make it happen, but don’t give up,
and it, and it works.
It worked. And, you know, the one thing that I was always adamant about, and, and I preach a lot of safety because at that time I, you know, I would, after I did some of these feuds, I would have people send me photos. And I was just horrified to see people with power packs out by pools and
[00:07:11] Brett Stanley: Oh, yeah.
[00:07:11] Scott Rhea: no, shock blocks, no safety precautions.
So, you know so we, we, we did make sure that we had a lot of safety on set, you know, even, even from the earliest stages,
[00:07:20] Brett Stanley: I think that’s definitely one of the most important things to keep in mind, right? Like it’s the, the, the excitement of doing something underwater, you kind of do tend to forget the danger of what’s going to happen. You know, we can’t breathe down there and it’s highly, conducive to electrocuting yourself.
[00:07:36] Scott Rhea: Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. No. I, I had someone, American photo magazine did a couple of articles. I mean, after, in 2011 they did an article and I had someone send me. A picture of they were shooting a pregnant woman and there were cords all around. They sent me their set, a photo of their set, and there were cords everywhere.
There were power packs. There were, I mean, it was Willy nilly and here’s this woman standing barefoot at the edge of the pool. There’s water on the side of the pool. And I asked him, I said, you, you did have a GFC I and a shock block. During the issue. Right. And he said, what’s that? So yeah, just completely terrifying.
So, so yeah, you, you can’t be too careful. I mean you know, even above ground there’s enough dangerous, but yeah, as you just said, there’s a lot of, a lot of things that you really have to make sure you got dialed in when you take someone under water as well. Which, which hopefully the audience we’re speaking to we’re, we’re talking to the choir, but, in case we’re not, yeah.
That’s, that’s absolutely something to be aware of.
[00:08:33] Brett Stanley: Well, th th there’s a good point, actually, because I think the demographic of this, of the audience of this podcast is fairly wide. So, you know, any, any kind of information that we can kind of get across in terms of, of the safety stuff, because. Really it’s outside of common sense because if you haven’t ever really thought about it, then you’re not aware of.
If you know what I mean.
[00:08:52] Scott Rhea: True. True. And you know, there’s been an evolution in, in what’s available now, too, as far as materials. I mean, you know, that you can do a lot now with led, I mean, there’s some very, very powerful led lights out there. So, you know, in that case, yeah, you, you have nothing to worry about. But you know, if you’re using continuous lighting or if you’re using strobes that you’re having to hook into AC power I absolutely go overkill with.
Productions and and we have great, big, huge GFC shock blocks, that everything plugs into. So, so not only the power for what’s happening on set, but the power for everything around the set, including hairdryers for the, you know, for the hair team. And every everything, everything electrical anywhere near that set is is protected.
[00:09:35] Brett Stanley: Yeah.
[00:09:36] Scott Rhea: And and I think it’s important.
[00:09:37] Brett Stanley: I mean, I mean, that’s the thing too, because I’m looking at the sets you were building and the way you were shooting them, you were shooting with avail, not available light, but constant lighting. Right? So it was basically like a, a film.
[00:09:47] Scott Rhea: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. Now we um, you know, early on I, every time I shoot, I’d try to do something absolutely different. I try to push myself and push boundaries that haven’t been explored yet. And one thing I wanted to do. Back in 2010 was shoot shoot, some really high-speed, Phantom footage.
And I, and I knew exactly how I wanted some of these things to look. And when you’re shooting Phantom which for those of you that don’t know what a Phantom camera is, the camera that she, it was originally designed for capturing ballistics sh you know, tracking what bullets do in the air. So it can shoot up to, you know, 15 now I think 1800 frames.
And, So I wanted to shoot at least a thousand frames a second. So to do that under water, you need an, an incredible amount of light. So on one sheet, we actually we actually hired a soft sign, which a soft sound is a hundred K light and it requires a 750 amp generator and, and a lot of people to handle it and basically a crane system to get it over the, over the pool.
And so yeah, so we’re, we’re working with a lot of power there and and on the smaller end, it was you know, still power packs Dynalite power packs at the time 2000 and 1000 wa lights. So, so that was kind of the range was, you know, anything from an 18 K HMI. To a soft sun, to a continuous lighting led.
So I I’ve kind of just depends on the shoot. Depends on the depth and depends on what we’re trying to do as far as the complexity goes.
[00:11:14] Brett Stanley: I mean, that was interesting. So I saw that installation, that the flux one that you did, which is with the Phantom camera and it is incredible, you know, it looks so buttery smooth and the, the, the movements, you know, and the way you kind of, you know, rack the frame rate to kind of bring them in fast and then slow them down. You know, it’s like that movie 300. It, it was just beautiful.
[00:11:35] Scott Rhea: Well, thank you. Thank you. Yeah. It’s, it’s amazing what the eye doesn’t see. I mean, a lot of that footage that we’re speaking of, you know, you’re looking at at two, three seconds of actual time footage, but about at a thousand frames, a second, it plays out is 20 seconds of footage. So you’re getting to see things that your eye would never capture.
You know, how. And, and how air expands around the body and the bubbles move and what happens around the face. I mean, it’s, it’s all something that’s pretty spectacular. See, because it’s not something you would see normally in real time with the human eye.
[00:12:08] Brett Stanley: Oh, absolutely. And it’s hypnotic as well. People listening to the show know that I kind of, you know, I love the apple screensaver. At the moment. Cause there, you know, there are these, you know, slow motion, drone shots and underwater shots through the kelp and stuff. And I kind of just sit there and I forget how long I’ve been watching these things for it’s it’s you just get lost in the detail of it.
Like it’s not like a still photo where you kind of look at it and go, okay, I’ve seen it all. And it’s not like a video clip where you’re like, well, that’s over now. It is so long. And so intricate and things are moving so slowly that you kind of like, oh my God, look at that.
[00:12:42] Scott Rhea: Yeah, no, it’s it’s mesmerizing. And then also what you can do then is kind of reverse engineer your ideas around that, you know, knowing, knowing how things play out. Can kind of read, determine how you’re gonna approach things creatively. So so on, on a lot of that stuff, I knew what I was going for now, always there’s, you know, there’s chance that happens and things that you discover.
And that’s one thing that I always preach is be as prepared as possible, be as planned as possible. And then let the magic happen from the things that you weren’t expecting. But but don’t go in, don’t go in always expecting accidents to. Get your back because you know, that doesn’t always happen.
And also I invested a lot of money, a lot of my own capital into doing this. And there’s, there’s quite a bit of money in my earlier work, and collection. And you, you, time is money. And when you’ve got, you know, my, my last few huge sets were 60 people and an 80 foot crane and, and big lights and generators and all this.
And when you’ve got that kind of crew. You, you simply can’t be unprepared. You, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s chaotic even when you are really prepared because everything underwater takes four times longer or, you know, five times longer than than it would on a dry sheet. So so yeah, so preparedness, I can’t say enough about.
And even then you’ll have days where it’s like, you feel like all that preparation was for nothing because you know, you’ll have stuff, you know, fly out of nowhere. You know, you that’s, the one thing you can expect is things to, to always pop up. You weren’t expecting. So.
[00:14:08] Brett Stanley: Oh yeah. I mean, that’s the thing with underwater, right? Like it’s always, there’s always going to be something that goes. And as long as you’re covered, as much as you can be, they’d kind of makes the difference. Right,
[00:14:18] Scott Rhea: right. Well, and in some strange masochistic way, it’s, it’s part of why I like shooting underwater is that I, I, I like being faced with challenges that I have no idea necessarily how I’m gonna, you know, get around him and having to do it. And, and I think part of that comes to that when I was a fashion photographer, I shot my primary work was lifestyle work and And it, it, it resulted in, you know, you’ve got eight or 10 people you’re shooting a beer commercial, and then you’ve got to create something that’s, that’s real, as real as can be and capture that moment.
So everything was spontaneous. All this. And and I, and I liked that work at the time. My private work, my personal work is, is completely different. It’s completely planned and, and, and I try to execute it with as much thought and preparation as possible. But the previous training of shooting lifestyle work allows me to move quickly.
If I, if I see something or think not, or there’s a problem, and there’s almost kind of a high that comes from that, that, you know, when you have to solve a problem underwater, And you pull it off. There’s a payoff for that.
[00:15:21] Brett Stanley: Absolutely. Yeah.
It’s like being a rock climber, like it is that sort of thing of, oh my God. But then we just pulled That, off. that was
[00:15:27] Scott Rhea: That, that is a really excellent analogy and I I’m a climber. And and, and I, the same, the same thing I recently did a, the longest repel. I did a 500 foot repel uh, we’re 12,000 feet up. And let me tell you, it was, it was quite, it was quite an experience and a little, a little bit puckery and I w I had not done this route.
And and you know, you have to transport. Ropes three times. And and there, the guy I was with who owns a company called base camp and you’re a Colorado, which is the little Switzerland of Colorado. We were, we were up on this, on this face and he said, yeah, you know, in the mid transfer, you know, look for this hook to the right.
Well, you know, this hook happens to be really small. So I get all the way down on the second leg and I’m out of rope and I’m like, wait a minute. And I look up and it’s about 12 feet above me to the right. I drifted over and I couldn’t see this, this transfer hook. So so I had to, you know, free climb up 12 feet.
I’m still hanging, you know way off the ground and a hook into a per cell presic and then transfer. And and let me tell you, it it’s, it was terrifying for a moment. And then an exhilaration that, that lasted for about three days once I got on the ground.
[00:16:42] Brett Stanley: yeah.
I think that that’s the, that’s that feeling of success of, you know, of when you, whether it’s life, life-threatening or not. I think that, you know, when you get something that you didn’t think was going to happen and then you make It, work, I think that that rush yeah. Is incorrect.
[00:16:56] Scott Rhea: It, it, it is. And, and it’s difficult to explain to people that that have not experienced that before, but to most of the creative audience that might be listening, they know exactly what we’re talking about. It’s the reason we do what we do. You know, not, not that you always have to put yourself in a perilous situation, but it’s that.
It’s that it’s the reason people jump out of planes and so forth is, you know, it’s that payoff of challenging yourself, putting yourself up against the wall and then succeeding and, and sometimes failing. I mean, look, failure is, is, is a big part of that, you know you know, there’s people that fail and then quit and walk away and there’s people that fail and go, okay, wait a minute, crap.
What, how do I go back and redo this and pull it off next time? And that’s even a bigger payoff.
[00:17:36] Brett Stanley: Definitely. And I think the failure is, is needed to make those successes feel as good as they do, because if you succeed all the time, You get desensitized to it, but if, but when there’s the threat or the risk of failure for whatever reason and for whatever result, you know, that’s just kind of like resetting you.
It’s like a reality check of oh, that’s right. Yeah. It’s not as easy as I think.
[00:17:59] Scott Rhea: Right. No, absolutely. Well, and you know, I had something happen and it, it hasn’t been all that long ago, maybe 10 years ago. That changed my creative process completely, in my personal work. I meditate a lot. And that I would say that all, most, all of my ideas come from not from a cognitive consciousness, but from from place during or after meditation.
And and I used to, and still do, I will sit down and I will sometimes it, it floods out of me. Ideas will flood out of me. And then there’s days where nothing comes out, but there’s days where I’ll have two or three notebook pages full of ideas. And I used to sit down and look at these ideas. And go, oh my God, that’s stupid.
What am I thinking? What was this about? You know, well, one day, and I don’t know what the catalyst was for this, but one day I just sat down and said, you know what? I’m not going to judge any of these ideas. I’m going to, I’m going to look at them and I’m going to determine which ones I want to develop, but I’m not gonna I’m not gonna beat myself up over the ones that might’ve, you know, seemed okay at the moment.
And then I go back and deem them as silly because what that was doing. Judging myself and judging my creativity and it was shutting off this flow. And it was probably the most empowering thing that happened to me creatively was, was to, to not judge, not self judge, you know and, and be able to, to discern what it was and elevate what at which ideas were going to serve me.
So it’s been, it’s been very powerful for me to make that shift.
[00:19:24] Brett Stanley: Yeah. That’s really interesting like that. The kind of self-talk stuff I think we do as creatives sometimes kind of can stifle us in terms of, of, yeah. Like you say, like, oh, that idea was stupid. Why did I come up?
[00:19:36] Scott Rhea: Right, right. No, absolutely. And I, and I used to do it a lot in fashion. It’s one reason that there’s still a lot of fashion that will show up in my work. But I, I got really the whole market, the whole fashion market is kind of, it’s kind of silly, you know, number one, there’s so much duplicity, Steven Moselle was sheets something.
And then, you know, now there’s 200,000 photographers trying to do that same editorial and and there’s all this. Validation by other people that based on what other people have done. And and to me, that’s another thing is, is, you know, that that’s, the kiss of death is like, you know you know, we don’t need 200,000 Steven Mizel is out there shooting
[00:20:12] Brett Stanley: Right. Yeah, yeah.
[00:20:13] Scott Rhea: we need people really pushing to try to find an original idea and original voice.
And, and, and so that’s, that’s another thing too, that is, if I don’t have an idea now that. I deem as, as completely original and something that’s going to push to the next level and I can keep raising the bar. Then I. Because Y Y you know, why, why spend that time? Why spend those resources? Why waste time?
You know, so, so I’m not as prolific as, as a lot of people, but when I shoot, I try to make it matter. And, you know as we spoke a little earlier, I’ve got, went through some, some personal adversity with a divorce and so forth, and it just shut down my creativity. And I took a couple of years off and haven’t really done my chin, as of recent.
Coming back in full force. So so it was going to be interesting to, to kind of see where some of that leads now,
[00:21:02] Brett Stanley: Yeah, absolutely.
[00:21:03] Scott Rhea: as raising the bar,
[00:21:04] Brett Stanley: So it is that kind of feel like your own, your own sort of personal dogma, like your own personal set of guidelines is that if, if you don’t think it’s innovative or if it’s not something that you haven’t seen before, then you, then you don’t do, you don’t do it. You don’t pursue it.
[00:21:17] Scott Rhea: You know I mean, I, I would say that, that for my personal work, yes. Now commercial work that’s different, you know, if someone comes to me and I’m shooting a music video and, and most of the time when they do, I’m writing the treatment anyway, so I write the treatment and I can, I can have some creative control over that, but but, but yeah, overall I just try not to.
I try not to duplicate something that has existed somewhere else. I try to, I try to push myself to, to, to create something that’s new, that’s fresh, or do it in a different way that hasn’t been done. But yeah, you can’t, it doesn’t happen all the time, but of course that’s, that’s the goal.
[00:21:52] Brett Stanley: So with your, with your commercial work and say, if you have a commercial client, like an agency come to you and they’re like, we love this shot that Steve and my sales done, we want to do this. How do you handle that as a creative?
[00:22:03] Scott Rhea: Well, I mean, there’s times to where, if there’s enough people involved in this, the client, the agency have already had their background meetings and they come to you and they want you to execute something. That’s what you’ve got to execute now, even with that you know, and I learned this in the fashion business because I would have people come and bring me, you know, someone else’s ad, you know, probably the biggest one was a client.
Once that brought me a Neiman Marcus had, and they wanted to duplicate it. Exactly. And. Pretty opposed to doing that because they literally, it was, it was I think wanting to promote their credit card. And it was a credit card, you know, had debt that Neiman Marcus had done. And they literally down to the, to the outfit that the model was wearing, they wanted to emulate this.
And, and I, I did everything in my power to to talk them out of that upfront and they wanted, they wanted to do it. So what I did is when I got on set, I had already pre-thought of, okay, how can I approach this? Better than what this looks like. So I brought a, I brought in a whole different sense of motion.
I directed it differently. I made it, I actually elevated it to where, when they got to the editing stage and started looking at the images, of course, they fell in love with the ones that I was promoting. So I kinda, I pull that out that way now, you know, Hey, they’re the client, they’re writing the check.
So you do, you do what they ask, but I think it, I think you have a duty. To, to try to always you know, it’s one reason they hire you, you know, is to be reliable and to, to, to help, you know, co-create and elevate ideas even, even on the agency level, you know?
[00:23:32] Brett Stanley: right? Yep. And I guess you have a kind of like a personal responsibility to yourself and to the art to kind of push it again, like to kind of, to, to, to not cookie cut it every time.
[00:23:43] Scott Rhea: Oh, no, absolutely. Absolutely. And in most cases that. You know, that comes when you get boards from an agency or, you know, in your initial meetings, you normally are able to share, share those ideas. And, and then, you know, craft, craft that direction somewhat or co craft that direction with the creatives, they are the agency.
But as with everything, there’s a range of what you’re going to run into over your career. So, You know, but yeah, as much as you can’t and if you become known for having those skills, if you become known for, Hey, wow, okay. You know, this is what we think we want to do, but let’s bring it to Scott and see what he has to say about it.
And then you’re able to give them quality feedback and direction. Then that’s it just, it just validates your, your authenticity for why they’re hiring you.
[00:24:27] Brett Stanley: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. And has, has your underwater stuff entered into the commercial world? Have you, have you had much commercial in many commercial projects that have wanted the underwater.
[00:24:38] Scott Rhea: Yeah, I have it’s been interesting when I first did this though. I you know, when those visions showed up after Katrina and and I, I thought, man, this is. This is the personal work that I’ve been looking to create. You know, I, I felt it coming but I, I didn’t know what it was going to be, but then that showed up and I almost protected it like a baby.
And I was like, I’m not going to bastardize this by trying to commercialize it, you know, because I had shot so much commercial. Stuff that, you know was just soul wrenching, but, you know but, but paid the bills, and I didn’t want this to become that way. So I’ve been, I’ve actually been careful with with, with that, that I don’t want to sell out this word because it is still, it’s still very private to me and very personal and I, I did break a lot of new ground early on and and I wanted to kind of keep Keep that, but no, there is now, especially with advertising and, and especially with advertising in Europe, I’ve worked a good bit in Europe and, and had ultimately plan to relocate to Europe.
Right when right when the pandemic broke out,
that may, I was planning, I was planning to move to Spain and and as we know what that story happened, but So, no, I’m, I’m now with the work in Europe, you know, like even a lot of the commercial work is absolutely stunning and beautiful. Some, some as well in America you know, America has little, little more flat on some of the creativity with some commercial, but that’s, that’s changing also.
So so no, not, not, not that it won’t happen, but you know, the, the, the underwater work has certainly been a a passion work and and a private, expression for me.
[00:26:12] Brett Stanley: Yeah, And speaking of like the music videos and then the film world and stuff. Cause we, I think we originally met on the set for a music video. You were shooting like a few years ago.
[00:26:22] Scott Rhea: absolutely.
[00:26:22] Brett Stanley: And that was out of Spain.
[00:26:24] Scott Rhea: Yeah. Yeah. That was divvied biz ball, a big, very, very huge pop artists there. And and that, that, that music video is actually nominated for lo Scott into award, which was a it was nominated for best music video in Spain and Latin America. It didn’t, it didn’t didn’t win, but it got a nomination.
And I did go to Madrid, go to the Madrid awards. And that was pretty, pretty exciting. So yeah.
[00:26:47] Brett Stanley: So, how did they get hold of you for that? Was that, did that come through from your photographic work or was it from out the directing work or,
[00:26:53] Scott Rhea: Someone in Europe someone in Europe had seen it and contacted the record company and the artists had seen it and they contacted me out of, out of nowhere, out of the blue. And then it turns out we, you know, it’s a very small world. So there was a, a DP that knew me that knew the record label over there.
And We ended up having mutual friends and, you know, it’s just, you find out there’s definitely less than six degrees of separation. I think there’s closer to two,
uh, and a lot of cases,
[00:27:21] Brett Stanley: especially in the underwater stuff as well.
[00:27:23] Scott Rhea: oh, absolutely. In the underwater world. Yeah, for sure.
[00:27:26] Brett Stanley: So in terms of the music videos and, and the installation art, where is that being kind of shown? Like, what are you doing? Are you investing in, in the installation, art yourself and then, and then trying to I guess they get that shown or are people coming to you and kind of commissioning.
[00:27:42] Scott Rhea: Well, there’s there’s a lot of public art happening worldwide right now. There are there are programs there’s a in America, there’s a program called percent for our programs that basically when they build a high rise building or an expansion to a an airport, they either have to pay a certain.
Or they have to put that amount of tax into a public art project. So so there’s, there’s a lot of great opportunities and there’s some very, very big companies out there doing this LA. For example all that interactive art in theirs is done by a company called moment factory. And um, so, you know, in these, these, those are the multi-million dollar projects, but there’s a lot of stuff in between.
So so there’s, there’s some interesting opportunities out there. And I, I was fortunate to be able to be awarded one and, and did did one and then did another one that wasn’t water related. And I’ve got a lot of friends in the ARV. World right now. So I’m integrating some of that. We’re about to do some, some test projects on an XR stage, that that will involve all kinds of media and all kinds of, you know, underwater and, and not underwater concepts.
So and I’ve got a lot of friends that are engineers and developers in, in some of that technology interactive technology. So it’s just one more platform for me to kind of. Elevating ideas and expanding the toolbox there of, of what’s possible and and get paid for it.
[00:29:03] Brett Stanley: Yeah.
[00:29:03] Scott Rhea: uh, Yeah, so so there’s, there’s just some fascinating stuff happening and it’s, it’s changing at the speed of light.
I mean, my God, every, every year is just just phenomenal. What’s coming out. It’s
[00:29:15] Brett Stanley: Yeah.
I’ve totally. I mean, just in the like you mentioned the AR and the the VR kind of world, like um, the crap that’s coming out from that And especially, cause I spoke to Casey Sapp who runs a company that does, that, you know, has done underwater VR and 360 VR and all that sort of stuff.
And just being able to sort of give people that immersive experience or some way that they, they might not have ever been. I think that’s, that’s, that’s a such an exciting world to be.
[00:29:44] Scott Rhea: Oh, it’s, it’s very exciting. You know, I mean the, the, the final frontier, and this is something I’ve said for 15 years, but, you know, the, the final frontier is not really execution of, you know how something shot or what the camera is or whatever, you know, it’s, it’s a good idea. Do you have a good idea?
Do, do you consistently have good ideas that, that is the final frontier, because there’s a, you know, like I said, the duplicity, there’s a million people doing the same crap and you know, and there’s, you know, there’s a million and that may be an understatement pictures of beautiful girls floating under water and that’s, and that’s okay.
It’s a, it’s good. But I mean, the, the amount of like really stellar ideas that that’s the final frontier is, is, is, is aiming. You know, and it goes across platforms. It doesn’t matter whether you’re shooting underwater. If you’re shooting above water is shooting the fashion industry. It’s all about how the quality of your idea and how you execute it.
[00:30:37] Brett Stanley: And did you think that sort of um, new, innovative ideas, do you think that’s a bottomless? Well, do you think it can go on forever?
[00:30:44] Scott Rhea: I mean, you know, I forgot who said it, but someone said, oh, there’s no new ideas. I’ve, I’ve never agreed with that. Ever. I I I’m positive. There are new ideas and, and there, I mean, just, just look, I mean, one thing that, that invalidates that idea is look at the tech industry. I mean, most people don’t see technology as creating.
Or even the medical industry is great. It is, it takes really brilliant minds, bringing things from a completely unknown point of view to create a lot of what’s happening and you know, in the tech world. So it’s the same thing in the creative arts in the creative industry. So you know, you, you have to push for part of it, I think is what you tell you.
If you tell yourself, oh yeah, I don’t have a new idea or I have a cream and that you’re just going to go and duplicate other work or something then yeah. Then that’s where you stop. But if you actually, and that’s where for me. You know, meditation getting to a different place. Like I said, it very seldom the great ideas come out of my cognitive brain.
They, they typically come either during a deeper state of consciousness or after I’ve spent a lot of time in that state of consciousness and then come out and and, and sadly, a lot of times it happens when I’m driving and I’m on the freeway. So I always keep a notebook
with me. And there have been times where I’ve had.
Pull over and go, oh my God, I’ve got to get this down because you know, if you, if you don’t, you get home and go, wait a minute, what? Wait, what was that idea? Damn, it was so good. You know?
[00:32:04] Brett Stanley: Yeah. And it is like a dream right. Where you’re just like, like straight away you’ve had it. It’s like, it’s so real. It’s so perfect. And you know, every detail of it, but the more you, the further you get away from it, the more, it kind of disappears into the mist a little bit. And you’re like,
[00:32:18] Scott Rhea: And that’s why there’s always a notebook by my bed. There’s always a notebook by my bed and always one in the car. And and then I’m usually covered. And if for some reason I’m not. I, I have, you know, I’ll hit the record button on my phone and I have a special file that if they’re ideas I’m thinking about course, I’ve learned also to be detailed because sometimes I’ll, I’ll speak into my phone and, you know, rattle off
some things that you listen to two days later and go, what the hell did I, what was, I mean,
[00:32:43] Brett Stanley: Yeah. Yeah,
Yeah. Cause I, I use notepad on my phone to kind of jot down ideas and stuff and I’ll look back at them like a year later. Cause I’ll, you know, I’ll have forgotten to do it and I’ll look back at it and go, what does this just says, spoons? What does spoons mean? Like
[00:32:57] Scott Rhea: exactly.
[00:32:59] Brett Stanley: was I trying to do?
[00:33:00] Scott Rhea: Exactly. No I had, yeah, the other day it was something that I went back and looked at my notes, had dark room chair, you know, light through door. You know, and, and I couldn’t, I know at the time the vision was in my head, but when I went back and looked at my notes, it did not connect the dots. So I’m still waiting for that to come back.
I’m sure. I’m sure it will. It’s just a slow moving neuron, you know?
[00:33:22] Brett Stanley: So one thing that fascinates me, And one thing I’ve tried to kind of do on this show is talk about inspiration and where people get inspiration
from and how they. How they I guess cultivating, you.
know, whether there’s any processes they had and I just thought of something then, which was kind of on purpose, being very vague about your ideas when you write them down so that when you see them again, it actually sparks a different idea because you’ve reinterpreted.
[00:33:45] Scott Rhea: Yeah. Yeah. Oh, absolutely. No, that, that does happen. That does happen. Absolutely. And you know, a lot, a lot of my inspiration I don’t know. I it’s almost like a blues musician, I guess, has come from adversity challenges, challenging times, challenging things in my life. And I I I’ve been either gifted or curse with the fact that whenever I get in a situation like that, that’s emotionally challenging.
It generally turns into visual metaphors. Like I will start seeing pictures and sometimes. I will see pictures and I don’t know what they mean, and I’ll go back and I’ll reinterpret them. And, and often it’s almost like interpreting a dream. I can kind of start to piece together what those things mean.
But you know, there that the image that I did call lessons, which is a little girl on a ladder, trying to reach a chalkboard and all the. All the letters are falling off. The chalkboard, that image showed up exactly as is captured. And I really had no idea at the, at the, at the moment it took me about 48 hours and it was very clear.
There was two things going on. One was that was during the oh 8 0 9 crash. And there was a lot of stuff going on. So there was a lot of, there was a lot of personal lessons that I was going through, but I, my oldest daughter had been struggling with. And it wasn’t, it wasn’t until about three years later, we found out that she was severely dyslexic and for kids that are dyslexic, you know, words will literally move off the page, they’ll change position.
So so that, that image yeah. Has a lot to do with both of those things, you know, personal lessons and, and the challenges that my daughter was going through with dyslexia. And so. So I would say that probably about half my worker or so comes from, from, from my mind interpreting emotional emotional states of consciousness.
[00:35:29] Brett Stanley: Yeah. And I know you just kinda, you kind of covered this a bit, but do you, do you tend to go in with your concepts with a very particular message or is it kind of interpreted after you do it as to what is.
[00:35:42] Scott Rhea: I mean, it depends there’s times to where if I’m feeling something I may sit down and go, okay, what, what does that look like? You know, what, what, what does that feeling look like? You know, if I’m, if there’s something going on in my, in my life and I might add, I might just sit down in the meditation and go, what, what does that look like?
And pictures will start showing up. You know, the one thing that I don’t do, which is. I used to do early in the fash career was like, oh, I’m going to make a pretty picture. I’m going to make, I’m going to make something cool. You know, that, that, I think I’ve evolved a little out of that state, you know, because you, then you end up either duplicating something or you end up, you know, creating something that really has no meaning.
And, and not to say that that’s not okay. Cause it is okay. There’s times where you can do that just for me and in my process. It’s not okay because I I’m, I’m using this as my personal expression for art. But it is totally okay to go shoot a beauty shot under water and have it not really mean anything.
That’s okay. Because there’s, there’s a place for that too. But for me yeah, and that’s one reason why, you know, recently I think just taking a couple of years off and sitting down and looking at what’s happened over the last couple of years and, and starting to do. Put a picture to it. There’s some very, very powerful images showing up.
And my biggest challenge is. They’re all really big. And most of my work has all been very big and big equals money and big equals people and time and so forth. And, and if you’re not, if you don’t have a patron or someone funding that, then you have to figure out, okay, well, how do I execute that? Which. At this current time has been an interesting challenge for me that that has also led to another creative avenue.
And that is okay, how do I get this idea across, how do I get this big idea across without being, having to employ 60 people and a huge tank and all this and, and that alone, asking that question has also resulted in some really interesting caveats to how to do that. So so that’s, that’s going to be coming up in the next few months and I’ll, I’ll be exploring some of that.
We’ll let you know how they work out.
[00:37:36] Brett Stanley: Yeah, that’s awesome. Looking forward to that. I mean, that’s the other thing too, is the business side of this, like as someone who is, you know, doing personal work and then, and then I assume you’re, you know, with your stills, you’re, you’re creating them and yeah. Approaching galleries and sort of selling these images.
Is that kind of your kind of work?
[00:37:54] Scott Rhea: well, That’s a, that’s an interesting question. I’ve had, I’ve had a lot of success with galleries. I’ve been fortunate enough to have some shows like some of the most prestigious galleries in Santa Fe, Miami Dallas, you know, a number of places. It, it’s tough. The whole, the fine artwork, foreign art world is it’s an interesting world, you know, most, most of the time.
I mean, I’ve, I execute from, from like, From the storyboard phase all the way to the printing phase. I print my own work. I even had my own frame shop in Colorado when I moved from Colorado. I’ve I don’t have that now, but I even made my own frames. So it was completely know a passion project galleries take 50% of whatever they sell.
So a lot of times about a time you crate pack produce, you know you’re, you’re doing it. It’s not a, it’s not a profit center. It’s, it’s a, it’s a way for people to get to know your work. It’s led to some commercial projects. It’s led to some film projects by people seeing the work. But it’s you know, and, and part of that too, is just how much I chose to invest in the work early.
That it’s, it’s hard to turn around and make a profit or survive. I’ll find our work in the, in that regard. So so yeah, so, you know as much I’ve done a lot of shows and I had I was fortunate, I did at the LA art show about five years ago. I was able to do an external installation. We did a projection on the outside of the at the LAR show, which was, which was great. So there’s. A lot of attaboy you know, projects, but I’m, I’m being more careful with those now because you know, I do a lot of big prints and I’ve been fortunate enough to, to to have clients that want really large prints.
And but I don’t know, there’s, there’s just so much work and effort that goes into it and often not quite as large a return. So, so, you know, I’m focusing energies in different areas right now.
[00:39:38] Brett Stanley: Yeah, absolutely. Did you ever do any underwater stuff with uh, with film as opposed to digital.
[00:39:43] Scott Rhea: No, no. I, you know, everything was going, I was a, I was a holdout on the film side only because you know, I’d done so much beta testing with Kodak and I, like, I was. Tech head and new films, so well that you know, when digital came along, I, I just early on, I didn’t see, I didn’t see it. I could do more with film because I knew it so well, but but then of course now it’s like, my gosh, why, why would anybody waste their time?
You know, there’s so much latitude with the new cameras. It’s just, it’s actually just blows my mind. You know? Every time I look at what Ari’s coming out with or black magic, or, you know what I mean? Red. I mean, it’s, it’s crazy what these cameras are able to do.
[00:40:22] Brett Stanley: Oh, totally. I, I I’ve been shooting with the black magics a lot lately and, and for what they are for the price point, they are, they are such an amazing.
[00:40:31] Scott Rhea: Yeah. Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. No. There’s, you know, that’s, that’s the thing is that there was a time to where you know, unless you came from a wealthy family you, you couldn’t get in the film business, you know, it was just, so it was so expensive to, to do anything in the film business. And now. Man.
There’s like 12 year old kids producing stuff. That’s just, you know, jaw-dropping astounding. So so there’s no more, no more excuse with the hardware, you know, it,
it it’s there, there’s no limitation because you know, for, for 3000 bucks, now you can shoot with a camera that, you know, not all that long ago, it would have taken, you know, $75,000 worth of hardware to get that image.
And the $3,000 camera might even be better now. So it’s.
[00:41:11] Brett Stanley: And I think that throws back to your point about, you know, it’s not about the technology, it’s about the ideas. Like that’s the, that’s the the tradable commodity is the ideas, you know, that’s the thing that’s
[00:41:21] Scott Rhea: Yeah, no, that it’s, it is the final frontier. And then, and then execution because, you know, I see, I mean, it’s funny, everybody seems to, I get emails all the time. For whatever reason people feel like they need to share everything. They see underwater with me. But uh, and I, and I see some stuff that’s beautiful.
And then I see some stuff that’s just kind of crazy and silly. And then I see some, and then occasionally you’ll see some ideas that were almost there, but then they’re just not executed well, and then you’ll see. Really beautifully executed bad ideas. So, so there’s a whole range, but to me, the target is have a stellar idea, sit down and map it and then figure out how to actually really execute it properly.
and that’s, that’s the holy grail, you know?
[00:42:01] Brett Stanley: So I do mentoring and I do workshops and stuff. So I deal with a lot of, a lot of photographers from all different kind of experience levels. And I think the one thing that I really see that that makes someone shine is that they have the ideas, but then they also execute it really well. You know, I see, like you say, I see people who have amazing ideas, but don’t really do it very well.
But having that little package of this is my idea, which is really good. And I’ve kind of spent some time to think about it, how to do it properly. I think that does the idea of justice.
[00:42:31] Scott Rhea: Right. And they, and then you get into territory, which is, who decides what a good idea is. You know, I mean, you know, you, you could do something that might look cheesy to someone, but it’s like the most amazing thing that someone else has ever seen. So so you know, that definition has to be set with you and having the, you know, having, having the ability to discern what is going and what’s not, and not everybody can do that.
Not everybody can develop that. There are things that can be developed You know, creativity is a really strange animal, you know, I mean, so much of it’s in the, in the eye of the beholder and the thing is it, to me, it has to come from a personal place. Otherwise it’s just manufactured, you know? I mean um, the, you know, if it, if it speaks to something that you personally feel about and it’s got.
Overtones of something personal, then it’s, then it’s going to come across that way and people will perceive it and go, wait a minute. What’s going on there. Even if they don’t understand the image there’s something more there. But again, if you’re just, if you’re setting out to make a pretty image, that’s okay.
There’s a market there too, but you know, that’s a different, this, a different ball field.
[00:43:34] Brett Stanley: Yeah, And I think like you say it is very subjective, I think as artists, we need to sit down and think, well, who am I doing this for? Am I doing this for myself? Am I doing it for the client? Am I doing it for the likes? You know, the social media kind of stuff. And There’s no wrong answer so long as
[00:43:51] Scott Rhea: There’s no wrong answer. Yeah. And you can actually be doing it for a multitude of things. You know what I mean? Hey, I, you know, again, I still have to shoot commercial stuff and, and it, and it’s definitely not art. And then, you know, that’s one reason why I’ve been so protective of, of my art is to kind of.
Divide that line and have a crossover, but it’s okay. I mean, there’s, there’s a, there’s no, no right or wrong. It’s a it’s and sometimes you have to serve both sides of yourself. You’ve got to serve your, your pocket book and your, your financial needs, and then you also have to serve your artistic needs.
So, uh, it’s, it’s, it’s the most common dilemma that all artists I think struggle with is that balance,
[00:44:28] Brett Stanley: It’s definitely, it’s, it’s the balance between you know,
is this your career or is this your passion? And if it’s both and it works, then that’s like you say that that’s a holy grail in itself.
[00:44:38] Scott Rhea: Absolutely in fact, you know, for me, and I don’t share this with a lot of people, but I, I shot so much commercial work fashion-wise that there was a time that I could feel it inside of me. There was something that needed to get out and and it was true. Crazy, but I couldn’t get there. I couldn’t think it, I couldn’t let it out, but it was because I was working so much.
And, and there was an association that every time I grabbed my camera, there was just this like ceiling. There was this limitation because of like, you know, I was doing really fast paced, quick, you know, high pressure work and, and my brain somehow didn’t go there and it wasn’t until. I kind of pulled out of that and had, you know, had some time, you know, time away from that, that industry that that it, that I opened up that other side of myself and let it, let that creativity come out.
And yeah, so, so a lot of times it’s just a matter of like, again, giving yourself time and giving yourself space to let those ideas come out. And, and, and once again, for me, It’s meditation, you know, because my, I wake up and if I don’t meditate, my brain will start spinning at a thousand miles an hour.
And it goes in all these different directions. And, you know, if I even hope to have any creative thought come out of that, it would only be by accident. So it’s an issue of getting to a deeper place and that, and that’s just my practice. It may not be for any anyone else, but but I am an advocate of, of, of allowing yourself to turn your brain off so that you can let something deeper.
[00:46:02] Brett Stanley: No. I love that idea, you know? Cause my, my brain is kind of similar. Like my brain’s like a hummingbird. It never really stops. There’s always noise in there. And sometimes, you know, the signal will outweigh the noise and I’ll have, you know, some sort of brilliant idea. But, but then it disappears back into the signal, into the noise again, you know, that’s why I’ve got to get in that’s where you got to write stuff down.
just the uh, the, the different people’s process of, of, of cultivating their creativity is so interesting to make us, everyone is different. Everyone has a different way of doing it and it’s, and it’s so.
[00:46:34] Scott Rhea: And you know, it’s very frustrating because there’s times to where, you know, you’ll, you’ll have a film commissioner call you and they want a treatment in two days and you know, you’re sitting down and you’re like, okay, you’re listening to the track. And you’re like, okay, come on. Where are these ideas?
And. The harder you squeeze the less that comes out. So so you know what, I, you know, my process with like writing music, video treatments, whereas, you know, to, listen to the track with headphones on a couple of times, and then I’ll play the track really low in the background and go about my day and go about my business.
And then and then I’ll go into some meditations. And then at some point, usually some ideas start showing up. But but there’s times that they don’t and then, you know, you’re getting closer to the deadline of delivery and, you know, anxiety kicks in a little bit. And then that again, that strangles, that strangles even more creativity from coming in.
So, so the process is, you know, yeah, it’s different. It’s different for everyone. There’s no full fail, fail, safe way to, to approach it. I don’t think,
[00:47:31] Brett Stanley: Do you have things that, that you kind of turned to that, that, that spa. Inspiration like music or films or paintings or,
[00:47:39] Scott Rhea: I’m a huge jazz fanatic. And I have been since I was like 10, so I listened to a lot of jazz and to me, there’s just a connection with that music. I grew up in Louisiana spent a lot of time in new Orleans. I was a musician. It wasn’t a jazz musician, but I was, I was a musician. So music.
For sure is, is a huge catalyst for me. And and all kinds of music. I mean, I listened to everything from, you know, electronica, jazz, classical a lot of ambient music. So it just depends sometimes that will actually. Put me into a particular state to that that gets the creative flow going.
So yeah, I would say, I would say music is, is a music in nature. I’ve lived in nature. I split my time for a number of years. I lived in Telluride, Colorado kept a place in LA. And when I wasn’t working, I was in, I lived at 10,000 feet on top of a mountain and and I would just go get lost. I’m a back country guy.
I like to go hiking and, apply fishermen. And so getting in nature to me is. It’s essential. I mean, I’ll, I will die if I’m not in nature. A certain point. If I got just, I just came back from, you know, from Colorado and Utah and traveling and do you know, we’re shooting a, a pilot series for an adventure, a travel show.
So that that’s a integral part of who I am. And for me creatively, it pairs with that when I’m in a city too long and I’m around too much noise. It’s it’s, it’s anti creative for me.
[00:49:01] Brett Stanley: Yeah, no, that’s really interesting. Scott. Thanks so much for sharing everything. Just, just listening to the path you’ve taken and the way you kind of approach your work as just it’s really inspiring. Thanks so much.
[00:49:13] Scott Rhea: Yeah, Brett, man. Thank you. And keep up the great work, man. You’re doing some beautiful stuff.
[00:49:18] Brett Stanley: Thank you, man. Appreciate it.
[00:49:19] Scott Rhea: All right.